March 22, 2010

Dreaming of Spring

I spent today dreaming of Spring, of digging new vegetable beds and sowing seeds and what to plant where. It's still a few weeks before I can start working the soil here, but the snow is already melting--and six weeks earlier than the past two years--so it gives a girl room to dream.

And to really get my imaginative juices flowing, I held my first seed swap this afternoon. I went in with a couple of girlfriends on a big seed order from Heritage Harvest Seeds, a Manitoba seed company specializing in rare and endangered seeds especially suited to Northern climates, and we got together over tea to literally swap individual seeds across my dining room table while our children played in the next room. I felt a bit like a pioneer. In fact, I'm sure a hundred years ago this very day, Alberta women were sitting in living rooms just like ours swapping seeds and advice and planning their harvests.

Of course, we are anything but rugged pioneers. We're all working moms who are real novices at gardening but who have lots of energy and enthusiasm and a strong desire to provide healthy home-made meals for our families. So that we can maximize the variety of items we can grow in our small urban plots, we're splitting the short season vegetable collection, as well as swapping seeds among our own vegetable, herb and flower orders, and I am just so excited! There are so many new things I'll try to grow this year that I never would have ordered on my own: corn, peas, watermelons. And there are so many other things that I have grown many times before but never varieties so old or so rare: the Hollyhock "Nigra" dating back to the 17th century, a mix of poppies brought over to the New World more than 100 years ago by someone's Ukrainian grandma, and the medicinally rich Calendula instead of the more traditional marigold.

And like any gardener, there are a few things I ordered just because their names sparked my imagination: the Bison tomato, Drunken Woman lettuce, and another lettuce called Merveille des Quatre Saisons--"wonder of the four seasons." I could sit here all day just dreaming about what that might look like...

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